Oracle Team USA beat New Zealand, win America's Cup qualifier

Oracle Team USA beat New Zealand, win America's Cup qualifier

Emirates Team New Zealand, Land Rover BAR, Artemis Racing and SoftBank Team Japan all secured their progression through to the Louis Vuitton America's Cup Challenger Playoffs, while Groupama Team France bow out of the 35th America's Cup with their heads held high.

Team New Zealand have selected Britain's BAR as their semi-final opponents in Bermuda, believing that will provide the smoothest pathway to challenge for the America's Cup.

After the first week of competition, which will see the elimination of one team, Land Rover BAR are secure in third place out of six teams, but they're a long way behind the USA, who are the defending champions, and New Zealand.

Powerhouse Emirates Team New Zealand, who earned the right to choose their semi-final foe by topping the seedings, selected the British outfit with the forecast for light winds in mind.

Team USA remained stuck on seven points as they were handed just their second defeat of the competition by Artemis Racing of Sweden.

Meanwhile, after concluding the qualifiers as winners, topping the table with nine points following back-to-back wins over Emirates Team New Zealand and Land Rover BAR on Saturday, Oracle Team USA will take a crucial point advantage into the America's Cup Match.

Jimmy Spithill's U.S. crew now progress straight to the main event, where they'll start with a one race advantage thanks to their overall win in the qualifiers.

Groupama Team France, who as late challengers for the America's Cup were always regarded as the underdogs, lost by a huge margin to Emirates Team New Zealand.

The result means the USA team will have a point lead against whoever gets to challenge them in a head-to-head match, which will be won by the first team to get to seven points.

The Kiwi syndicate thumped Team Japan by 51 seconds and were even more dominant against Team France, winning by four minutes to eliminate the French from semi-final contention.

SoftBank Team Japan has three points and Team France, two.

In 2013, Oracle Team USA entered the match with a two-point penalty after being caught in the biggest cheating scandal in America's Cup history.

“We had to win that race and it was great to see the teams response.”.

An aggressive but perfectly executed and legal pre-start from Sir Ben Ainslie allowed Land Rover BAR to race clear of SoftBank Team Japan from the start line.

Oracle will sail against Land Rover BAR in the fourth and final race Saturday. "We have struggled in the light air, our competitors know that, so we'll be keen to crack into racing tomorrow".

"We made some little errors and then learned a lot and we stayed out for a while afterwards to practice a few things that went wrong during the race and we are really happy with the few improvements we made afterwards".

Oracle has two races Saturday, the final day of the second round robin, and the Kiwis just one.

Teams have claimed to be doing “dry laps” for a while in practice, but this was the first time it has occurred in a competitive race.